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Why are we not asking "Why?"

Updated: Oct 30, 2023

As coaches, we are often approached with an ambitious goal.

"I want to run my first 10k"

"I want to break 4 hours in the marathon"

"I want to complete a 100 mile ultra-endurance race"


As an endurance athlete myself, I understand the ambitious goal thing. What I have never quite understood is why we don't ask people why they are training for their goal.

Have you ever noticed that as soon as someone finishes a race, the immediate question is, "what's next?" What if instead we started asking about why they completed the race they did and why they are looking to do another?

I find it extremely important to understand why someone is chasing their goal and more importantly, I find it important for them to understand. Because of this, I work hard to ask and understand questions revolving why individuals may be chasing the goals they are.

What have I found?

During most initial sessions with clients, when I ask them deeper why questions, they either push back or do not have an answer yet. That is totally fine and normal! However, how can we be the best team, if we do not understand why we are working towards something.

The key is to ask questions without sounding condescending or like you do not believe in them (I have learned this lesson the hard way in the past through the loss of clients). We need to provide an open space for individuals to be seen and heard by their coaches and communities as they chase their goals, but thats impossible if the client does not know why they want to be seen and heard in the first place. What is it that they truly want?

Clients have mine that have been able to find their why and be proud of it have found the most results. It's crazy how much different training is when you really understand why you are doing it every day.

I challenge you to starting asking that follow-up question. Most of the time, the individual has not even thought about it yet. As a coach, we must understand what is driving our clients to achieve their goals.

Blog Post written by Jacob Oak | personal trainer, run coach, and gait analyst that works with endurance athletes through Oak Endurance and Performance Running Gym.

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